Bossou, Guinea (CNN) — A political standoff has forced nearly 4,000 citizens of northwest Ivory Coast to flee to neighboring countries, prompting fears of regional insecurity, according to the United Nations.
The disputed presidential election outcome between opposition leader Alassane Ouattara and incumbent Laurent Gbagbo has threatened to derail a fragile peace process in the west African nation.
The renewed refugee flow has also put neighboring Liberia and Guinea on high alert.
“In my village the majority voted massively for President Laurent Gbagbo, and [the New Forces soldiers] threatened us because of that. They came to our houses and started to harass us, to mistreat us,” said Jean-Jacques Issignate, 19, from Nyale, an Ivorian village along the Guinea border. “We fled to the forest … I spent one week in the forest.”
Provisional results from a November presidential runoff intended to end more than 10 years of civil war showed Ouattara as the winner with a nearly eight-point margin.
Earlier this month, the nation’s highest court, headed by an ally of Gbagbo, canceled thousands of votes from the north — Ouattara’s stronghold and declared Gbagbo the winner with 51 percent of the vote.